It was a showcase of what playoff season is all about.
After an all-out battle that saw a 0-0 score carry through overtime, No. 4-seed Woodside (18-2-3) persevered on penalty kicks to triumph over No. 8-seed St. Ignatius (13-6-5) in yesterday’s Central Coast Section Division II girls’ soccer semifinal at Burlingame.
After a tremendous performance by St. Ignatius goalkeeper Soleil Brisbane, Woodside was a perfect 5 for 5 in penalty kicks. Gianna Rosati, Heather Seybert, Jillienne Aguilera, and twin sisters Madison and Lauren Holland executed the five consecutive shots, outscoring S.I. 5-3 on penalty kicks to win it.
Was Woodside head coach Jose Navarrete surprised the critical game went down to penalty kicks?
“Not at all,” Navarrete said. “[St. Ignatius] just got done beating Valley Christian, Mitty, and St. Francis, and we knew we were in for a tough one.”
Only the all-out performance by Brisbane stood between Woodside and an overtime win. The senior keeper fended off 17 Woodside shots throughout, including a flurry in the closing minutes of the final overtime period. And she was noticeably distraught as the St. Ignatius team ran onto the field to comfort her after the penalty kicks decided the game.
“I credit their goalie,” Woodside junior Lauren Holland said. “She’s actually guested with my club team before. We like her very much and I give her so much props and to go into a shootout like that it takes so much nerves.”
But the game would have never gotten to penalty kicks had Brisbane not stopped a flurry of Woodside shots in the finals minute of overtime.
Woodside had a great chance to score with three consecutive shots. Freshman forward Alex Augulis set up the opportunity by flying down the right sideline. She won a one-on-one matchup with a quick inline step to drive towards goal just outside the penalty box. A quick pass into traffic was controlled by freshman Isabella Bascara, who got it to Aguilera for a good shot. But Brisbane deflected it, sending the rebound right to Holland, who had her shot batted away by Brisbane. Then, as a free ball seemed destined for goal, only the savvy of St. Ignatius defender Amanda Castillo in protecting the empty net preserved the tie.
“It’s gut-wrenching,” Navarrete said of the dramatic finish. “You say, ‘Wow, if we lose, and we had those chances….’ But I told the girls, ‘Forget it. We can’t do anything about it now. And we are not going to miss (our penalty kicks).’”
The match was a wild shootout from the get-go. Just 12 minutes into regulation, the two teams sparred for four combined shots in four-and-a-half minutes.
Woodside’s Aguilera missed from 15 yards out in the 13th minute with a laser shot that sailed high. St. Ignatius answered right back in the 14th minute as senior Amanda Castillo wiggled around a Woodside defender to get in close, but her shot sliced just wide right.
For the next nine minutes, Woodside went on an offensive blitz, controlling the St. Ignatius side of the field with several strong attempts, the first in the 15th minute on a look by Rosati. The second came in the 17th minute on a shot by Augulis, but Woodside came up empty.
Woodside had its best opportunity of the first half just before the halftime whistle. Senior Erika Negrete exacted a pass to Aguilera for a point-blank shot. But Aguilera’s high attempt was tipped by the outstretched fingers of Brisbane, who volleyed the shot over the crossbar.
In the second half, the game turned physical as both team amped up the pushing and shoving. In the 61st minute, Woodside freshman Bascara wrestled a one-on-one matchup with Brisbane. St. Ignatius’ seemed to have a bead on a previous shot, but couldn’t get a handle on it. The ball bounded away and Bascara’s eyes went wide as she and Brisbane charged head-on toward the ball. Although the contact of the ensuing collision was incidental — and it looked as though Bascara was about to walk the ball to goal — a foul was called on Bascara and the play whistled dead.
But Woodside’s defense buckled down and ultimately drew a line of demarcation at midfield. Rosati showed why she is a three-time Peninsula Athletic League Defensive Player of the Year by being the centerpiece in Woodside’s efforts of stonewalling St. Ignatius throughout the second half.
“We’ve always had a strong defense,” Rosati said. “And last year when we went to the finals, our defense was something that was the cornerstone of our team. This year we’re getting back to that. We scored a lot of goals and we’ve allowed a few more than we did last year. But we’re trying to get back to clean sheets.”
With the win, Woodside advances to Saturday’s championship round for a shot at the third CCS crown in program history and second in a row. Woodside will play 10th-seeded Mitty, which clobbered Branham 7-1 in the other semifinal.
The championship game is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Valley Christian High School in San Jose Saturday.
It will be an all-West Bay Athletic League CCS championship game when No. 6 Sacred Heart Prep takes on rival and top-seeded Menlo School at 6 p.m. at Valley Christian High School in San Jose Saturday evening.
SHP (19-2-2) advanced with a 4-0 win over No. 7 Scotts Valley, while Menlo (17-3-2) dispatched No. 12 Priory, 2-0.